Wing Commander: Eagle Rising - A Game Idea

Sylvester

Vice Admiral
With the recent release of Saga and the upcoming release of an SDK which incorporates some of the things they have developed, it got me to thinking about new campaigns that could be developed using that engine. To that end, I created a rough draft of a game idea that has floated around my head for a while. None of this stuff is set in stone, and I post it here to solicit comments and suggestions on ways to move forward. I have also started designing some missions for the game, which I plan to post once I complete the outline. I don't have any coding experience myself, but I'd love to find people interested in this idea who could get together and possibly get something started. Your comments are welcome!

Wing Commander: Eagle Rising
Story Development Guide
First Draft: 02 April 2012



General Background:

Wing Commander: Eagle Rising will be a modification of the Freespace 2 Engine with the assistance of tools and coding developed by the Wing Commander: Saga team. The story will begin in 2656, shortly after the original Wing Commander. The primary setting for the game will be on-board the TCS Eagle's Talon (CV-09), a Bengal-class Strike Carrier and sister-ship to the TCS Tiger's Claw. The story will follow the Eagle's Talon and her pilots as they launch strikes deep into Kilrathi territory in preparation for the Confederation's first attempt to subdue the Enigma sector. During the course of the campaign, the Tiger's Claw is destroyed attempting to attack K'Tithrak Mang, and now the Eagle's Talon is stuck behind enemy lines with her small escort group, cut off from the Confederation forces retreating in the wake of the Claw's destruction. Following the Eagle's Talon's escape from Kilrathi territory, the campaign will conclude withthe Talon fighting valiantly to defend several defecting Kilrathi planets from a counter-attack by Prince Thrakhath. The purpose of this campaign is to serve as a bridge of sorts between when the Tiger's Claw was destroyed and the beginning of Wing Commander II. The campaign will take place between early 2656 and late 2657/early 2658, roughly the same time-span as Wing Commander II. The player will have the opportunity to fly most of the Wing Commander 1 fighters, plus others that appeared in the TV series Wing Commander: Academy. A unique aspect of the game is that it will be the first Wing Commander game to feature a female protagonist as the player character.

The Carrier:

Name: TCS Eagle's Talon (CV-09)
Class: Bengal-class Strike Carrier
Nickname: Talon, The Dirty Bird
Laid Down: 2642.163, Trojan IV Shipyards, Jupiter Orbit
Commissioned: 2645.217
Assigned Craft: Carrier Fighter Wing 20 – 104 Fighters, 4 Aux Craft
  1. 254th Pursuit Squadron (Highwaymen): 16 F-36G Hornet
  2. 107th Pursuit Squadron (Silver Knights): 16 F-54A Epee
  3. 1st Fighter Squadron (Wolfpack): 16 F-44B Rapier
  4. 47th Fighter Squadron (Storm Wings): 16 F-44B Rapier
  5. 301st Attack Squadron (Bulldozers): 16 A-14E Raptor
  6. 95th Attack Squadron (Mighty Roosters): 16 A-14E Raptor
  7. 36th Bomb Squadron (Blockbusters): 8 A-17C Broadsword
  8. 4 Personnel/Refueling/SAR Shuttles
The Escorts:

Name: TCS Andrew Keith (DD-1392)
Class: Exeter-class Destroyer
Nickname: Andy K
Laid Down: 2650.117 – Luna Shipyards, Earth Orbit
Commissioned: 2651.295
Assigned Craft: 6 F-54A Epee, attached to Carrier Fighter Wing 20, 2 Shuttles

Name: TCS Spade (PC-562)
Class: Venture-class Corvette
Nickname: ? (Suggestions Welcome)
Laid Down: 2648.246 – Vega Spacedock, Blackmane System
Commissioned: 2649.103
Assigned Craft: One externally docked shuttle.

The Characters: (More will be fleshed out, these are some early important ones)

1st Lieutenant Kathryn Stewart (Player Character)
Callsign: (Suggestions Please!)
Homeworld: Leto, Proxima Centauri System (Same as Maniac)
Current Assignment: Element Leader, 254th Pursuit Squadron
Biography: A former transport pilot, Stewart only recently made the transition to being a fighter pilot. More comfortable being in the background, she now has to assume a leadership role within her squadron following her promotion to 1st Lieutenant.

Major Rex Morrison
Callsign: King
Homeworld: Earth, Sol System
Current Assignment: Commanding Officer, 254th Pursuit Squadron
Biography: An officer who never let a regulation stand in the way of doing what he thought was right, Morrison has bounced around assignments as a result of tensions between past COs. He seems to have found his element flying off the Talon though, and his pilots would follow him into a sun and back if he said it was necessary.

1st Lieutenant Pablo Arezzo
Callsign: Palace
Homeworld: Dakota IV, Dakota System
Current Assignment: Pilot, 47th Fighter Squadron
Biography: An academy classmate of Stewarts', they were initially quite hostile to each other. This changed during their junior year when during a training sortie, Palace's oxygen generator exploded. Running low on air and starting to suffer from Hypoxia, he was helped back to base by Kathryn who kept him alert the entire time back. Afterward, they settled their differences and became quick friends.








2nd Lieutenant Alistair Turner
Callsign: Dragon
Homeworld: Earth, Sol System
Current Assignment: Pilot, 254th Pursuit Squadron
Biography: A rookie fresh out of the academy, Dragon has been assigned as Stewart's wingman now that she has become an element leader. Impressionable and quite green, but with solid flying skills, it will be up to Kathryn to ensure he lives long enough to home those skills.

Colonel Samantha McGibbons
Callsign: Syren
Homeworld: Sirius Prime, Sirius System
Current Assignment: Commanding Officer, Carrier Fighter Wing 20
Biography: A veteran pilot who cut her teeth during the Enyo Engagement in 2639, Syren is the leader of the Talon's pilots. She's fiercely protective of her people and has a short fuse when it comes to those who threaten them. Her temper has gotten her in trouble more than once during her career, and its only by the intervention of more senior officers that she hasn't lost her command. Despite her past blowups, she has a very good working relationship with Robert Downes, Talon's skipper.

Captain (TCN) Robert Downes
Callsign: Tophat
Homeworld: Tyr VI, Tyr System
Current Assignment: Commanding Officer, TCS Eagle's Talon (CV-09)
Biography: A former merchant skipper, Downes was already in his early 30s when the war began. Now in his mid fifties, he commands one of the Terran Confderation's finest carriers. Downes is a very subdued man, he never yells and oftentimes you have to strain to hear his voice. However, that should not be mistaken for timidity. Downes is a recipient of the Terran Confederation Medal of Valor, which he received commanding TCS Cushing, a destroyer that fought along side the Tiger's Claw at Custer's Carnival in 2644.
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
The campaign will take place between early 2656 and late 2657/early 2658, roughly the same time-span as Wing Commander II.

WC2 takes place in 2665 with SO1/2 moving into 2666. 2656-2664 is actually a fairly "open" period in the timeline.
 

Sylvester

Vice Admiral
WC2 takes place in 2665 with SO1/2 moving into 2666. 2656-2664 is actually a fairly "open" period in the timeline.

I meant more along the lines of roughly two years in length, not the same years. I see how that sentence is a bit unclear though.
 

capi3101

Admiral
Quite frankly, I've always felt that there are two time periods of the Terran-Kilrathi war that have never been adequately explored, (namely between the start of the war and WC1, and the interregnum between WC1 and WC2 after Blair has been assigned to Caernarvon Station. I think this is definitely an idea with some merit to it.

I'm curious to see what kind of response this receives from the rest of the community. If you don't get any interest in anybody helping you build it with the Freespace SDK, something like this could make a good campaign for WCRPG.
 

DangerousCook

Rear Admiral
This looks pretty good so far. I'd offer up some callsign ideas for your protagonist, but I don't think there's enough information on her personality yet to do so. Good luck with the project, I hope to see some more progress in this thread.
 

Deathsnake

Rear Admiral
Did you make your own models for Saga? I have for Enigma 2666 a lot of models from the WC1+2 Ära and Scooby help me to convert a few of them into Darkest Dawn. I also have a lot of other models from Cybot. Perhaps we can then share your models :)

It look very bad to mix the old ones with the new Saga ones. The turrets, trusters, hangarbays, textures and some guns on the fighters needs an upgrade to the new style.

Whats my favorite one:
tolmacs00.jpg

Cybot make for me the Tolmacs. The original idea was from NinjaLA and Howard Day. To use this in Saga Darkest Dawn it need to replace the prologue turrets and textures. I make for Enigma 2666 a few missions with this ship :)

I take it as a counterpart for the Fralthi as a light Cruiser (remember in the Book "Freedom Flight" are already Waterloo in use by the Confederation in SM2 Crusade and in the WC2 Intro also Fralthra heavy Cruisers exists in 2656) Fighterwing are around 20-24.

Also I have the Gettysburg Class Battlecruiser :) This also fits in the WC1+2 Timeline.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I don't have much to say about the concept as a whole. It's fine, the devil as always is in the details - and of course, any concept is only worth as much as the final implementation. This bit, however, jumps out at me:

1st Lieutenant Kathryn Stewart (Player Character)
Callsign: (Suggestions Please!)
Homeworld: Leto, Proxima Centauri System (Same as Maniac)
Current Assignment: Element Leader, 254th Pursuit Squadron
Biography: A former transport pilot, Stewart only recently made the transition to being a fighter pilot. More comfortable being in the background, she now has to assume a leadership role within her squadron following her promotion to 1stLieutenant.
This is just plain wrong. It's a bad player character, and you need to change it.

Think back to the WC4 intro. Maniac tells Blair he's being reinstated. Blair laughs, thinking that it's a joke - and also claiming that he's happy where he is. But the moment he realises Maniac is serious, his attitude changes completely. It becomes more or less: "when do we leave? I wanna start shooting." Why? Wouldn't it be so much more interesting if Blair started WC4 with all these doubts? Worrying all the time that he's too old to fly, and telling people that really, he'd rather be back on the farm? Yes, that would be a much more interesting character, and that's what you see in the novel. But it does not work in the game.

What you do not want - ever - is a player character who is at odds with the player. You want the player to identify with the character. And that means, the character has to want the same thing the player wants - namely, to play the game. I recently played an air combat game (Air Conflicts: Secret Wars) that tried to do exactly what you propose - their player character (oddly enough, also a female) had all these doubts about whether she was up to the challenge and so on. Worse still, halfway through the game, she started talking about wanting to stop flying (well, killing, to be more specific). Generally, the story and characters were interesting (as interesting as they could be in a budget game with terrible voiceovers), but this made their lead character terrible. All the time, I got the impression that if the character I'm playing gets her wish, the game will end - and I bloody well wanna keep playing.

If you want to give your player character depth, you need to take a different approach. You can have personal issues that have no bearing on the gameplay. You can also play with the fact that the player, sitting at his computer, can afford to be more confident than his character normally would be - after all, it's just a game. So, if you were to start with a character that's more or less normal, then becomes overconfident as he goes through a bunch of easy missions, and then something happens to pull him back to reality, that could work. Whatever you do, you always need to be thinking: how does the player feel at this point? Can he identify with the character? Are their desires in sync, or at odds? Games are very, very different to films and novels in this regard. In a film or novel, you identify with a character if he is constantly doubting himself - because you are imagining yourself in his situation, and you know that you personally would be scared shitless doing the Death Star trench run or whatever. But in a game, the player does not imagine himself as the player character. He does not have to, he is the player character. And where a viewer can imagine himself getting killed in a movie, a player cannot imagine himself getting killed in a game - because he knows life is just a restart away. You need to take this into account, or nobody will like your player character - and that's a big problem :).

By the way, since you want to go with a female character, you'll also have a another problem: romance. Because games are so much about roleplaying, for most male players (except the gay ones, of course), having romance as a female character is difficult. I mean, geeze, there you are, on the screen, kissing a man. Ewww. It's a serious problem - most people are not such great roleplayers that they can get over this simply by reminding themselves that hey, I'm playing a woman now, so it's ok to kiss a man. So, unless you're happy to avoid romance (and hey, it's ok - not every story needs romance), you may want to reconsider this. You don't make a game for yourself or just to make a good game - you make it for the audience, and the audience in this case is predominantly male.
 

capi3101

Admiral
Something else about the character that jumped out at me was the sudden transition from transport pilot to fighter pilot. Have you given any thought as to how that is going to occur in the character's back-story?
 

Malcolm Reynolds

Rear Admiral
I really like this concept as the early years have some of my favorite ships, artwork, history and aesthetic. I like the name of the carrier and how it fits with the theme of being sister ship to the Tiger's Claw. I also think it would be a wonderful opportunity to design and add new ships and fighters like the Tolmacs class that follow the WC1-WC2 design style. You could even add some overlapping ship styles as, for example, the Hornet is phased out and the Ferret becomes the favored light fighter.

Not sure how I feel about a female lead as I personally prefer playing my own gender and I'm not sure how many female players there would be. Also, the character history doesn't quite make sense to me. A delta airlines pilot isn't going to easily transition to flying an F-18...I think. I could be wrong about that. Maybe she flew the Wing Commander equivalent of a dropship in combat zones.
 

TEOC Viper

Rear Admiral
For me it's variable that a transport pilot could handle the transition to figher pilot some what easily. It would depend on the definition of transport. For a large cargo hauler I'd expect them to be scooped up as a helmsman somewhere, but if it was a cargo pod, shuttle or a something like a galaxy I could see it. But that's just one lurkers opinion.
 

Malcolm Reynolds

Rear Admiral
For me it's variable that a transport pilot could handle the transition to figher pilot some what easily. It would depend on the definition of transport. For a large cargo hauler I'd expect them to be scooped up as a helmsman somewhere, but if it was a cargo pod, shuttle or a something like a galaxy I could see it. But that's just one lurkers opinion.

Yeah, true. We don't really know how star ship controls function comparatively in the Wing Commander universe. It would probably be easier to transfer from a high-end fighter to a basic cargo hauler, but maybe their controls aren't as different as one might think. I'd actually be curious to know how cap ships are steered. Is it one guy at a helm or does the commanding officer and bridge crew relay orders to the engine room to fire certain engines at certain power levels to attain the desired vector and speed? Would it be a totally different set of qualifications to helm the Tiger's Claw then it would be to fly a fighter?

Also, OP, would a venture be an escort vessel like an Exeter would? I was always under the impression that Ventures were smaller transport vessels that were carried within a capship, then sent out on missions or trips when needed. Anybody know about this?
 

Sylvester

Vice Admiral
Wow! I'm loving the discussion so far. A lot of you guys have raised up good points, and I'd like to address them one by one:

Quatro, I understand your concern regarding Stewart's leadership abilities. I didn't mean to say that she was uncomfortable being a pilot, or was afraid to lead, only that it was something that she didn't actively seek out before now. The campaign will show from the beginning steps her becoming that great leader, and the player will be able to demonstrate that using commands during missions, which is something I think Saga lacked (The game is called "Wing Commander", but there are only about 5 missions where you actually can give orders to anyone). As for the romance, I wasn't really planning on that being a big deal here. Of all the official WC projects released, only two involved any sort of love interest (WC2 and WC3). The PC being female is also not set in stone - I wanted to get some feedback on that, and I may change it if most people indicate they wouldn't want to play a female character - like you said, this is a game, not a novel.

As far as being a former transport pilot, I envisioned her being a SAR shuttle or dropship pilot beforehand. Speaking as an active naval officer and student naval pilot, its not uncommon to find officers who are qualified to fly both transports and fighters. I got this inspiration for this idea from a line in Secret Missions 2 where Blair mentions he recommended that the Firekkan transport pilot, Captain Larhhi, apply for fighter training, so it is something that is apparently possible in the Wing Commander universe.

Regarding ship models, Deathsnake is correct that we need to take existing models and retexture them for the WC1 timeframe. These are the ship types I expect we will see in the game which models will need to be created for or modified, although this is by no means an exhaustive list:

Confederation Capships:
  • Bengal
  • Exeter
  • Yorktown
  • Gettysburg
  • Venture
  • Drayman
  • Dilligent (probably the WC1 tanker version, not the movie design, as to keep the art style unified)
  • Free Trader
  • Manassas (based on the WCA cruiser)
Starbase (WC2 and WC3 variants)
  • Hospital Ship (may have to be a unique design)
Confederation Fighters:
  • Hornet​
  • Epee​
  • Rapier​
  • Sabre​
  • Raptor​
  • Longbow (perhaps as a SAR transport, as in WCA)​
  • Broadsword​
  • Scimitar (though retired from front line service, seen in Militia units)​
  • Arrow​
  • Hellcat​
Civilian Craft:

  • Drayman
  • Tarsus
  • Orion
  • Hunchback (design Howard Day made for Pioneer, perhaps it can finally get into a game here)
  • Talon
  • Wildcat (maybe have these old Confed fighters show up in private hands - may look like a proto-Hellcat)
Kilrathi Fighters:
  • Salthi
  • Dralthi II
  • Jalthi
  • Hhriss
  • Gratha
  • Jalkehi
  • Grikath
Kilrathi Capships:
  • Snakeir
  • Ralari
  • Ralatha
  • Fralthi
  • Fralthra
  • Hha'ifra-type (we know its in service because we see it in the intro to WC2, which takes place in 2656)
  • Dorkir
  • Dorkathi
  • Kamekh
Mal Reynolds, as to your question regarding whether a Venture would be an escort ship, to me its dimensions (80 meters long, 1000 tonnes), would make it much too big to fit inside a Bengal's flight deck. I envisioned the Andrew Keith would assist the Talon in fighter defense and if a capship action happened, while the Spade would be a scout and rearmament platform for fighters.
My goal for the campaign is to make it more fighter centric - to make the dogfights more difficult and to make a capship appear only ever so often. I want to get in the realm of the number of ships we would see in missions in WC3 or WC4. You wouldn't face wave upon wave of ships (except on certain missions like strikes or carrier defense), you'd face a few fighters at a time. To compensate for the lack of numbers, I'd increase the 'hitpoints' so to say of the fighters, making them harder to kill. This would make each kill feel more valuable. Tying into this would be awards similar to what we saw in WC1 and Saga. Same thing goes for the capships - you may only face a single destroyer at a nav point, but the sucker would be one tough nut to crack.
 

Deathsnake

Rear Admiral
Good List. I have these models already done (needs new textures, turrets, hangarbays, radar, trusters):

Confed:
Hornet
Raptor
Scimitar
Rapier B (F is already in Saga)
Epee (done by Scooby - another texture need)
Crossbow (done by Scooby - another texture need)
Sabre (already done in Saga)
Morningstar
Ferret (already done in Saga)
Cutclass
Broadsword

Confederation (already in Saga)
Gilgamesh (done by Scooby - another texture need)
Clydesdale (done by Scooby - another texture need)
Bengal (I have a version with 5 fighterbays on each side - needs new texture and turrets)
Exeter
Gettysburg
Waterloo
Drayman
Free Trader (mod. Version already in Saga)
Tolmacy
Wake Class

Stations:
Confed Shipyard
Starbase (both from Cybot)
Sol Sector Base (already in Saga)

Kilrathi:
Dralthi (from Zohrath)
Sartha
Gothri (already in Saga)
Krant
Jalthi
Hhriss
Gratha
Salthi
Jalkehi
Grikath
Strakha MK1
Drakhri
Drakhri MK2
Bloodfang MK1

Ralatha
Fralthra
Snakeir
Dorkir
Dorkathi
Kamekh
Hha'ifra
Fralthi
Ralari

Starpost
Supply Depot (both from Zohrath)


As I say the most need simply a texture, turret, truster, radar and hangarupdate to the ones in Saga. But some needs also a UV Map. Cybot has shared me over 200 models *gg* so there some other ships like a Kilrathi Version of an Escort Carrier or this one:
ksastrocve03.jpg

You may know the design from here:
astro_commander74.jpg

Enough ships? ^^

The Privateer Ones is missing :(

I also get from Starman01 (Ex Saga Member) all from here:

http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php?topic=71822.msg1419409#msg1419409
but here is a problem: they are cob files - truespace. Can you tranfer it into a dae? Also these models need textures and uv map. The turrets, stuff and bays are already done ;) Perhaps you can use the Durango also in your mod :)
 
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capi3101

Admiral
  • Hospital Ship (may have to be a unique design)

I assume by this you would mean a unique model. There are a couple of instances where hospital ships do show up in the WC continuity (the Dakota missions in WC1 come immediately to mind), and as a rule they're Draymans configured for the task.

I was always under the impression that Ventures were smaller transport vessels that were carried within a capship, then sent out on missions or trips when needed. Anybody know about this?

Claw Marks clearly identifies the Venture-class as a corvette. Corvettes are very light warships generally used for coastal patrol. They're light enough and expendable enough that you can put them anywhere to project some military presence, monitor borders, discourage most pirates, etc. (i.e. the sorts of things you see TCS Johnny Greene doing in Milk Run). They are a little light to be used as a regular escort vehicle for carrier task forces; those roles usually fall to frigates. However, in the WC1 era, there are no canonical Confederation frigate-type vessels, so the closest ship that could fit the light escort bill would be the Venture. The next thing up is the Exeter, which Claw Marks says is a destroyer but is often seen in the cruiser or even dreadnought role in WC1.

If you ever want a good game where the player is in command of a corvette, I would highly recommend Independence War (the first one, never could get the second one to run properly).

As far as their overall size goes, based on the models we have of the Venture and the listed length in Claw Marks, the bounding box volume of a Venture-class corvette is 85,815.096 cubic meters, roughly one order of magnitude larger than a CF-105 Scimitar. I think it likely that there would indeed be enough space to land a corvette on a carrier, if the carrier's internal bays were configured such that the corvette would have clearance for the flight bay. The carrier would probably also have to be lacking a substantial portion of its normal wing complement at the time. Landing would probably be a hell of a ride, and I'd forget about using any launch tubes...
 

Sylvester

Vice Admiral
Actually, as far as the hospital ship goes, I was thinking of a unique model. It could be based on the Hospital Ship we see in Wing Commander: Academy. You could probably fit the Venture inside the Bengal, but it would cram up the flight deck so badly that moving around other ships would probably be impossible.

I may consider adding a frigate-esque escort ship in here. Maybe we could create a design for a frigate that fits in with the art scheme of the WC1 ships.

I've started the preliminary mission outline - i figure the campaign will have somewhere between 30-50. I'm starting off with broad, general sets of missions and their objectives which can be broken down into individual missions later once they are refined.
 

Malcolm Reynolds

Rear Admiral
As far as their overall size goes, based on the models we have of the Venture and the listed length in Claw Marks, the bounding box volume of a Venture-class corvette is 85,815.096 cubic meters, roughly one order of magnitude larger than a CF-105 Scimitar. I think it likely that there would indeed be enough space to land a corvette on a carrier, if the carrier's internal bays were configured such that the corvette would have clearance for the flight bay. The carrier would probably also have to be lacking a substantial portion of its normal wing complement at the time. Landing would probably be a hell of a ride, and I'd forget about using any launch tubes...

Barring that, a Venture or similarly sized ship could moor/dock with the Claw until needed. I'd imagine a huge carrier like that has numerous airlocks and points in which a Venture sized vessel or a cargo ship could attach itself. Perhaps it couldn't jump while moored, but it's certainly conceivable that it could detach and jump independently.

Something about the design of the Venture always made me think of it as a smaller vessel. Something like an shuttle or a troop transport.
 

Sylvester

Vice Admiral
Like I was saying - none of this is set in stone. We could replace the Venture with a frigate if that would work for the story better. The Venture is about the same size as a Free Trader class ship like the Bonnie Heather. I was envisioning the Spade doing those similiar roles - recon and as a forward staging/refueling platform for fighter craft.

Onto other topics - does anyone have any character or mission ideas they would like to submit? Things they always wanted to see in a WC game? As I stated before - one goal is for you to actually feel like you have a command - every mission will grant you control over at least one other fighter.
 

capi3101

Admiral
The Venture is about the same size as a Free Trader class ship like the Bonnie Heather.

Actually, same method, the Free Trader is about 20,000 cubic meters larger than the Venture.

Would have to give some thought to missions. An obvious beginning question: what kind of mission tree would you be able to implement? My understanding is that the Freespace engine doesn't allow for much in terms of branching.
 
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